While the analytical similarities of Thelonious Monk’s “Friday the 13th” and Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” might be interesting to some people, these two iconic musical figures have something else in common. Both were extremely individualistic and found it difficult, if possible at all, to compromise their artistic visions to satisfy the whims of their handlers.
While the standards for achievement at two-year colleges aren’t as stellar as at a conservatory, the teachers are dedicated and the students are motivated. Granted, the talent pool for music students is limited, but the creativity displayed by the professors in order to help them make good music is fervent and often heroic.
Jazz Camp West’s non-institutional environment and the lack of age limitations are what make the camp unique. I would add that the lack of emphasis on jazz vs. funk vs. mambo vs. samba vs. hip-hop is a contributing factor. But probably the single most important factor in fostering a sense of community among the campers and faculty is the lack of cell phone service and difficulty in accessing the internet.
In my thinking, the exclusion of audience participation means that measures have been taken to keep it from happening, but its disinclusion merely means that it was never taken up for consideration. Audience participation at orchestra concerts is not considered as essential to the music’s performance. And now that jazz-studies programs are nearly ubiquitous in American academic institutions, we should be concerned that institutional-based jazz-studies programs have the potential for disincluding the relatively experienced performer from their learning environment.
The most valuable performance tradition in American music—more important than subscription orchestra concerts, new music series, musical theater, rock concerts, and the opera—is the jam session, where musicians of any age, stature, and stylistic bent will agree to improvise at least one song together with the intent of making the best music possible.
The daily routine of Encuentro de International de Musicos makes it somewhat difficult to sightsee or go shopping for souvenirs. Every day, our group of ten musicians is scheduled to rehearse from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with workshops being conducted from 3-6 p.m. and, since Wednesday, concerts from 8-10 p.m.